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Seniors

September 21, 2010

Agency hoping for Foundation grant

Surveying seniors on transportation needs

TERRE HAUTE — Terre Haute resident Mary Baker owns an automobile, but says she can’t drive it to Indianapolis to seek medical attention.

“I have automobile that is almost 16 years old and I can’t trust it on the highway. I have to refrain from driving in the evening as I can’t see as well at night,” said Baker, 67.

“If I had evening transportation, I’d also go shopping, go to special events, such as plays at the community theater. I love the theater,” Baker said Monday during a public information session on the need for special senior transportation for medical needs and recreation.

Patty Cannoy, project coordinator for Area 7 Agency on Aging and Disabled, said that agency, along with The Will Center, Wabash Senior Activity Center and Senior Education Ministries, Inc. are partnering to submit an application before Oct. 1 for a $50,000 “Better Together” grant from the Wabash Valley Community Foundation.

The groups sponsored an information session and luncheon at the Vigo County Public Library to gain input from transportation surveys for need and interest. A dozen people attended the event.

The agencies hope to obtain the grant to provide senior medical transportation to Indianapolis, as well as social-based transportation from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. for seniors. The service would be provided to people in Vigo, Clay, Sullivan, Vermillion, Parke and Putnam counties, Cannoy said.

“From The Will Center’s prospective, this is another opportunity to expand opportunities for people with disabilities. Choices are what is important as opportunity adds choice to people’s lives,” said Pete Ciancone, executive director of The Will Center.

So far, about 300 surveys for all six counties indicates more than 50 percent of respondents currently use family, friends or neighbors for transportation to medication appointments in Indianapolis or they don’t go.

Two thirds of respondents stated they drive, but more than half of those do not drive to Indianapolis. Eighty-one percent of survey respondents said they would use medical transportation to Indianapolis. “That is out of 103 people who said they could drive, but don’t drive to Indianapolis,” Cannoy said.

“We keep track of what we deny, the reason we turn people down for transportation. In the last six months of last year, we had a dozen or more people turned down because we did not transport people to Indianapolis. That is just the ones that called us asking if we did. There is an obvious need,” Cannoy said.

For recreational uses, 60 percent said they would use transportation from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. About 35 percent said they would prefer evening transportation on Fridays. The top three places seniors would use evening transportation are shopping; a tied number of votes was cast for movies and special events such as concerts; and third was church activities.

In the surveys, 65 percent of responders so far were age 60 to 79 years old; 16 percent were under 60 with some as young as age 21; and 19 percent were 80-plus, Cannoy said.

The agencies are seeking $30,000 for medical and recreational senior transportation, plus $20,000 to build handicapped ramps as part of its “Better Together” grant proposal, Cannoy said.

Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.

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